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AUGUST 4, 1997

Local News

City gathering funds for Sorenson buy: Tourism request may go unfunded

  by A.T. Walgamott
   The City of Woodinville is lifting cushions and shaking piggy banks to come up with $1.75 million in cash to position itself for the purchase of the Sorenson complex by the end of the year. But by doing so it appears a request for additional funds by the Woodinville Tourism Partnership may go unrewarded.
   "Our recommendation is that any dollar we have goes to the $1.75 million," said Jim Katica, finance director.
   At last week's City Council meeting, Katica outlined a plan to amend the 1997 budget to finance the purchase. The Northshore School District is offering the 10-acre downtown Woodinville property for approximately $6 million. Twice last year, city residents voted down bond issues to buy Sorenson.
   Here's where the $1.75 million would come from.
   The most sizable chunk, $900,000, comes from the Real Estate Excise Tax (REET). The city collects REET funds from a .5 percent tax on the selling price of land and improvement on that piece of property, according to Katica. Another $300,000 comes from above-anticipated revenues in the General Fund at the beginning of 1997.
   The city will transfer $200,000 from the Street Reserve Fund. Another $250,000 will come from the Arterial Street Fund. The $250K had been earmarked for improvement to the intersection of State Route 202 and 127th Place N.E. near McCorry's. The project will not be done this year.
   An additional $100,000 will come from a debt service payment that will not be needed this year. The city would finance the remaining $4.25 million if it purchased the Sorenson Complex.
   Insurance claims for snow damage to Buildings B and D last winter have yet to be worked out between the city and school district, according to Katica. The outcome will help determine the final price of the complex.
   Two weeks ago, Jeffrey Shaw of the Woodinville Tourism Partnership had asked the council for an additional $27,500 to pay for more brochures, advertising and networking to promote Woodinville. The city has already given the partnership more than $38,000 of a pledged $55,000 this year. The finance committee recommended funding only $14,500.
   Under the current budget amendment, the tourism request would go unfunded, unless councilmembers chose to use contingency funds for the partnership's request. Katica has advised council against that option.
   "I would tend to take his advice," Councilmember Barbara Solberg said.
   Last week Shaw returned with members of the tourist business community. Ken Grant, Columbia Wine and Spirits director of marketing and public relations, said despite his company spending $100,000 on attracting visitors to Woodinville, the city wasn't as well known as it should be. He said some perceived the city as being in the "boonies." Don Julien, Woodinville Library manager and Community Roundtable president, noted successes of the partnership including increased participation in library events and the Farmers Market.
   "I urge you to consider the tourism proposal and fund it accordingly," Julien said.
   City Council will have a second reading of the budget amendment Aug. 11. Councilmembers may introduce funding at that time. But will drawdown of city resources put it in financial danger? Not according to Katica.
   "The city would not put itself into the position of being unable to handle unforeseen emergencies," Katica said.
   The city has a purchase option on Sorenson good until Dec. 31, 1997. The complex houses the Northshore School District pre-school and Head Start programs; the Shoreline Community College pre-school co-op; Northshore School District Home School headquarters; Woodinville YMCA program; Woodinville City Hall and the Chamber of Commerce.